Supporting Safe Communities and Safe Lives

The Safe and Thriving Communities Division is a new division that consolidates HSD's safety investments. The division was created in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and ensuing community advocacy efforts that urged the City to focus on BIPOC communities and shift safety investments into community-based organizations. The division will respond to community requests for the City of Seattle to reduce funding to the Seattle Police Department and reinvest in community building efforts using nearly $22 million in annual investments.

Community Forums

HSD hosted forums in November to engage community on the leadership and structure of the division:

Hiring Our First Division Director!

Headshot of Rex BrownHSD is excited to welcome Rex Brown, who has been hired as the first director of this new division! This is a very exciting moment for the communities we serve, and Rex looks forward to meeting department staff and our community partners in the weeks ahead. Rex will join HSD on July 7, 2021.

From the moment I watched the first seconds of what became the end of George Floyd's life, I realized the urgency of finding a way to protect the most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable places. I did not then, and I do not now believe that we must accept casual violence and racism as an inescapable part of life and our society. I want to work in this new safety division to directly address the needs of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities in a way that reimagines a society in which every person has the agency to meet basic needs with dignity. As a society, that is the only way we can truly thrive. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Prior to his selection as Safe and Thriving Communities Division Director, Rex led the Governor's Sub-Cabinet on Business Diversity at the Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises, where he led the first Statewide Disparity Study in 2019, which addresses systemic inequity in state contracting across Washington. Rex also launched the first Washington State Community of Practice to implement race- and gender-conscious policies, initiatives, and tools to help increase the use of certified minorities, women, and veterans in state procurement practices

Rex's experience in race, equity, diversity, and inclusion extends beyond the government sector.  As an alum of the Boston College Law School, Rex took up leadership of the Black Alumni Network (BAN) as its president. During his tenure, Rex refocused BAN's African-American recruitment/retention efforts as an integral component of BC Law's mission for social justice, established the Ruth Arlene W. Howe Scholarship (which was named for the first African-American female faculty member to achieve tenure and the rank of full professor at BC), and helped guide the selection of BC Law School's first African-American dean.

Rex is joining HSD at a critical moment. The new Safe and Thriving Communities Division will be at the forefront of investing in community-led safety strategies for BIPOC communities and the first major round of investments (the Community Safety Capacity Building RFP) will be awarded this summer. Rex's leadership will be key in building this new division and overseeing these investments in partnership with community. We look forward to his leadership on these incredibly important issues facing Seattle.

Please continue to monitor this page for updates and next steps.

Crime Survivor Services

As part of the reimagining, the Crime Survivor Services (CSS) Unit – comprised of the Crime Victim Advocates and Victim Support Team programs – was integrated into HSD from the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

CSS supports individuals who experience a broad range of violent assaults, some of which include domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and hate crimes. The unit also supports family members of homicide victims. Community-based agencies work closely with the unit keeping them current on resources available to survivors; increasing opportunities for partnership; and enhancing collaboration between system and community-based advocates. This work is centered on survivor agency, dignity, and safety as well as ensuring trauma-informed care through a race and social justice lens.

Mayor's Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

The HSD Mayor's Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA) serves as a funder, a community partner, a convener, and a thought leader. As a funder, the office invests more than $9 million annually in efforts to prevent, intervene, coordinate, and hold offenders accountable. Investment and Contracts staff plan investments and fund nonprofit agencies to provide community-based advocacy services. Our key partners include over 35 nonprofits, public agencies, hospitals, coalitions, and universities. Annually, our contracted partners provide services to more than 10,000 survivors and their families.